The Leader Of A Militia Group Unlawfully Detaining Migrant Families At Gunpoint Arrested For Felony Firearm Possession
A right-wing militia group that has been illegally detaining groups of migrant families in southern New Mexico is without a leader today. Militia groups rallying against undocumented immigrants is nothing new. However, the group, which calls itself the United Constitutional Patriots, posted videos on social media of them detaining a group of about 200 migrants. Now, the leader of the group, Larry Mitchell Hopkins, is behind bars, not for detaining people, but for being a felon in possession of a firearm.
A 41-minute video shows large groups of migrant asylum seekers being detained at gunpoint before U.S. Border Patrol agents arrive.
According to Buzzfeed News, the militia group known has posted videos from the border for the past few months. They’ve shared videos showing members detaining people in near the southern New Mexico border.
A video shows distraught migrants placed in giant groups seated on the ground at night. You can see the militia group ordering migrant families and children to sit down, calling border patrol agents on them.
After terrorizing migrant families, the ring leader for United Constitutional Patriots is behind bars, but not for kidnapping.
According to the Doña Ana County Jail website, Hopkins was arrested by the FBI for possession of firearms and ammunition as a felon. Hopkins, who was arrested over the weekend, faced his first day in court Monday.
According to The New York Times, the FBI was made aware in October 2017 of the “alleged militia extremist activity” of a group in New Mexico. The arrest was prompted after the groups posted several videos of their mass citizen arrests.
The group, mainly consisting of veterans, has been patrolling the southern New Mexico border since February.
A statement on the United Constitutional Patriots’ Facebook page describes the militia group as “Americans that believe in the constitution and the rights of every American that will stand up for there rights in unity and help keep America safe.”
“We’re just here to support the Border Patrol and show the public the reality of the border,” Jim Benvie, a spokesman for the group told The New York Times. He compared the group’s detention of the migrants to “a verbal citizen’s arrest.”
Benvie also says that members of the group offered $20 to any of the migrants who could identify the smuggler who helped them cross the border. But none of the migrants accepted the offer.
Social media is buzzing with the truth beneath the ambiguous language in the news.
Immigration advocates are concerned that Hopkins and his gang might have broken international kidnapping laws. A lot of officials have an issue with the timing of Hopkins’ arrest. According to The New York Times, the guns were found at Hopkins’ residence in 2017. Some reports claim prominent Democratic officials pressured the FBI to act on the arrestable offenses they of which they already had evidence.
The ACLU doesn’t agree with the militia group and will be seeking legal action.
“We cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum,” the ACLU said in a letter to state authorities denouncing the group’ actions. “We urge you to immediately investigate this atrocious and unlawful conduct.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham responded to the news of the immigrant groups being unlawfully detained. He says the actions of the group are “unacceptable.”
“That migrant families might be menaced or threatened in any way, shape or form when they arrive at our border — often times after an unimaginably arduous journey — is completely unacceptable,” Grisham told NBC News. “It should go without saying that regular citizens have no authority to arrest or detain anyone.”
Ursela Ojeda, a policy adviser in Washington for the Women’s Refugee Commission, told the New York Times the militia’s motives are questionable.
“These are families, and lots of young children, fleeing dangerous situations,” Ojeda said. “I have a hard time seeing how someone has a right to point a loaded weapon at these families.”